Five Signs Your Mobile Strategy Is Failing

| 12/20/2011

Mobile gives users the power of computers in the palm of their hands. Because that power is portable, mobile is the most hyper-local medium the world has ever seen. For marketers, that translates into more precisely pinpointing, targeting and marketing to consumers than ever before. Based on that understanding alone, traditional marketing tactics cannot necessarily be applied to mobile. In fact, the overarching danger in mobile advertising is approaching it the same way as other media.

Mobile’s methodological differences are preventing some marketers from seizing opportunities altogether, while still more are unknowingly committing grave mistakes that are negatively impacting performance. I call those mistakes the five warning signs of an underperforming mobile strategy.

Warning Sign 1: A Lack of Location Targeting

I’m still amazed by the number of mobile campaigns that aren’t locally targeted. Even if you’re associated with a “big brand,” your ultimate goal with mobile should be driving awareness of your products and services in specific markets because geo-specific ads perform better. Even with the dent that online purchases have made in the marketplace, a majority of consumers still prefer to shop locally. Thanks to GPS and real-time targeting, mobile can create hyper-local awareness at the point of purchase, which can draw consumers to your local storefronts and, ultimately, affect your sales.

Let’s use a national fast food chain as an example. Because the brand is well known, I’ll likely recognize its ads. Heck, I might even start craving some of their famous fries. But the question is: Would I drop what I’m doing to find the franchise’s nearest restaurant? Probably not. Now, imagine the performance boost such an ad would get if it told me that the nearest restaurant is only two blocks away from my exact location. The embedding of local relevance would entice me to take immediate action.

Warning Sign 2: Not Optimizing for the Mobile Experience

Thanks to locally relevant targeting, your ad creative should incorporate location information by speaking to the consumer’s immediate area. But inciting a local response is more than just using localized copy in your ads. In fact, your ads, as well as your mobile website and landing pages, must be optimized for mobile experiences.

As you assemble your creative, put yourself in the shoes of mobile consumers. More often than not, mobile users are on the go, which means they’re likely to have immediate needs. To fulfill those highly specific needs, they turn to their handheld devices, so the type of creative content you offer must play into their hands (pun intended).

To satisfy mobile-viewing experiences, ask yourself what you think is most important to consumers searching for and accessing information outside their homes, away from stationary computers and without the novelties that desktop searching provides:

  • Are your mobile website and landing pages organized and written in such a way that eliminates scrolling and zooming?
  • Are your mobile properties devoid of unnecessary barriers like Flash that will bog down quick, easy, convenient access?
  • Are your clickable features designed for sensitive touch screens and larger human fingers?
  • Have you tested that your mobile properties render properly on different devices, operating systems and browsers?

Warning Sign 3: No Social Component

In the recent past, social has been vital to desktop searchers’ pre-purchase research such as reading ratings and reviews on sites like Yelp. Understanding the impact of word-of-mouth content combined with the popularity of social sharing, those services are pushing heavily into the mobile space, where check-in functionality is creating a new level of social engagement. In fact, comScore reported that social networking via mobile devices has grown 37 percent over last year.

As an advertiser, you must take notice of the mobile-social movement because consumers now have another way of accessing information about your brand and being influenced in their purchase decisions. A Mediabrand study said that more shoppers this holiday season will utilize emerging technologies like mobile to research and compare their gift purchases. Depending on your goals, you may utilize social differently from the next business, but the key is to get involved in some way:

  • Claim and optimize your business’s locations on the top social apps.
  • Monitor the social commentary to identify brand advocates.
  • Offer a special tip or offer for your social influencers, or make your offers shareable for added exposure.
  • Follow up on negative posts and comments with customer service to turn a potentially unpleasant situation into a win for your business.

If you’re second guessing involvement, remember that social users are highly engaged. And when combined with the nature of mobile consumers — they’re active searchers and serious purchasers — the situation is ripe for business impact. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how you want to get involved, but one positive ripple in social can make waves across the mobile space, flooding your business with new sales.

Warning Sign 4: Ignoring What Mobile Customers Want

Who doesn’t like a good deal? With the surging popularity of nascent services like Groupon and LivingSocial, today’s deals aren’t your typical clipper coupons. While you don’t necessarily have to use daily deals, draw in consumers by offering local coupons or specials in some form, either in your ads, on your site or elsewhere. The effect on local exposure, traffic and sales (even opportunities to upsell or cross sell for added return or value) cannot be ignored. But make sure your offers are optimized so they can be found and shared. And use the opportunity to track in-store traffic and sales, which can help gauge the success of your mobile presence.

Warning Sign 5: Forgetting the Basics

The basic components of local search are your business listings because they provide a quick, concise and accurate method of finding and contacting you. In my previous column about the five essentials of mobile-local search, I encouraged you to claim, maintain and optimize your listings, being conscious to constantly update them as your business changes.

Remember that the sites on which your organic listings and profile pages are hosted will ensure that your content renders properly on the mobile screen, so make sure to follow your local-search best practices for business descriptions, offers, ratings and reviews, categories, keywords and details. Once your organic listings are optimized, maximize your search exposure by coupling your efforts with sponsored listings or targeted display ads for mobile.


Just when you thought you had a grasp on interactive advertising, mobile’s influence is rendering online marketing, which is only a mere 10 to 15 years old, as “traditional.” Heading into 2012, the mobile revolution will be continually replaced by evolution, as more businesses wake up to the reality that mobile adoption and strategy adaptation are critical for survival.

Yes, mobile is here to stay, and that requires a strategic change on your part if you’re to satisfy mobile’s differences. Avoid my warning signs by familiarizing yourself with mobile fundamentals. Or use a network or agency partner until you are completely comfortable.

Originally published by iMedia Connection (December 13, 2011)